Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 21, 2014

Firefighters brave the elements

Chattanooga firefighters innovate to reach a fire at 2607 Lockwood Avenue

The winter storm last week might have temporarily slowed down the Scenic City, but it did not stop the men and women of the Chattanooga Fire Department from doing their job – even when snow made getting to the location of an emergency difficult.

Chattanooga firefighters were forced to improvise On Wednesday, Feb. 12 when they couldn’t get to a fire due to impassable roads.

Around 11 p.m., they were dispatched to a reported house fire at 501 Semi Circle Drive. Captain Eric Gordon with Quint 16 said their truck could not make it up an icy hill, so they grabbed some portable water and dry powder extinguishers off the truck and walked to the house. Fortunately, this was a dryer fire and was still relatively small.

Gordon said they located the fire on top of the washer and dryer. Using the portable fire extinguishers, they got most of the fire out, but not all of it. Firefighters with Quint 19 and Squad 19 arrived moments later, and they too had to walk with their portable fire extinguishers to the house. Once there, they finished putting the fire out. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire was ruled accidental. The homeowner told firefighters that the power went out a few hours earlier, so in trying to light up the house, he placed a small propane lantern in the laundry room. Captain Gordon said the fire appears to have been caused by sparks from the lantern landing on a pile of dirty clothes. The clothes must have smoldered for a while and eventually caught fire.

The dollar loss was estimated at $1,000. Considering what it took for the firefighters to get there, the damage could have been much worse.

Two hours later, Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 2607 Lockwood Avenue. The snow-covered roads made it difficult for the fire apparatus to get to the house, but they did get there.

Lt. Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said fire was visible on one corner of the building. All of the residents were out of the house.

The fire appeared to be between the exterior and exterior wall of the house, and was spreading into the attic. Suttles said the firefighters attacked the fire from the inside and out, and managed to get the fire under control in about 20 minutes. No injuries were reported.

The resident told firefighters that she was sleeping when a smoke alarm activated. When she went to the living room, she saw a lot of smoke coming from the fireplace. She wasn’t sure that was a problem until she heard someone yelling outside her house, saying the house was on fire.

Suttles believes the cause of the fire was accidental. He believes it started around the fireplace, but what exactly sparked the blaze remains undetermined. Most of the house was saved.

Battalion Chief Rick Boatwright said it was very difficult for the fire trucks to get to the scene, and it was almost worse getting back out. Water from the fire hoses mixed with the snow to make for a slippery slush. The firefighters found it fairly effective to use their fire hoses to wash the snow and slush off the road, which eventually enabled them to leave.

Firefighters with Quint 10, Engine 15 and Quint 6 also responded to this fire.

Fire Chief Lamar Flint is proud of his crew. “Our firefighters do a great job every day,” he said to the Hamilton County Herald, “but they really demonstrated their skills and determination with this snow emergency. Despite the challenging conditions, with snow and ice on the roads, they thought outside the box and got the job done, like they always do.”

Some information from the Chattanooga Fire Department